Showing posts with label point and click. Show all posts
Showing posts with label point and click. Show all posts

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Love Letter

If there's one schoolyard romance cliche that's never going to fade, it's the love letter. True, most kids probably send each other love texts or PMs or whatever these days, but the idea is the same: one blossoming adolescent sending a token of their affection to another blossoming adolescent. Will they find true love? Or will one reject the other? That's kinda the point of The Love Letter - though it could also be a condemnation of nosy-ass friends.


You are the most popular boy in school (public, catholic, high, low, not sure what it is). You have tons of friends who will chat with you at the drop of a hat - and this is problematic, because you've just received a love letter from a mysterious girl. You need to read the letter and discover the details of her love... but you have only five minutes to do so before second period, and privacy is somewhat lacking in crowded school hallways.

That, then, is the point of The Love Letter: read the letter, in five minutes, without anyone discovering your furtive perusal. A novel concept, if not the most exciting, though the excitement comes more from the game's 'awwwwww' factor than standard browser game stuff.


The Love Letter offers two control schemes: use the mouse or use the arrow keys. Click with one to read the letter when no one's watching, or hold down SPACE for the other. (Or use a combo, up to you.) I prefer using the arrow keys, myself, as you seldom need swift motions to beat The Love Letter, and I found myself getting stuck on walls while using the mouse.


Pure retro, baby. The Love Letter is just another throwback title to add to the pile. The graphics are hardly glamourous, but they're clean and interesting enough for a game that only lasts five minutes.


The Love Letter has two MIDI-ized tracks: one that's a kind of standard jaunty tune, and one that's token luv. They're alright, nothing special.

Challenge Rating

The Love Letter is one of the easiest browser games I've ever played. There are lots of students roaming the halls, true, and they do seem to home in on your position while you're trying to read, but once you get the hang of corralling the little bastards on one side of the map while you run to the other reading the letter becomes a cake walk. I don't think extreme difficulty was foremost in the programmer's mind - this is supposed to be a swift, sweet romance, not an endurance trial.


The Love Letter is a tiny, interactive story, and not much else. You'll probably play this once, read the letter, meet the girl, suggest it to a friend or two, then forget it exists. Hardly a terrible experience, but not memorable, either. (That said, this mechanic COULD be used to craft a more difficult multi-level game without much trouble, and that might be more interesting to play.)


Friday, January 27, 2012


Ever seen the movie Memento? The one where the guy can't remember much more than a few minutes at a time before he forgets everything? And the movie is set in reverse, so you see the end first and the beginning last?

Yeah. That's kinda what REW is like. Except memory isn't the problem - it's just telling the tale so your expectations are reversed. Cool way of doing a video game, but does it work in practice?


REW starts off pretty dang confusing, and understandably so - you begin with the end. You play the part of a shady-looking little bear who has just murdered an old woman, and is on the way out of the house through the window. From there the game works backwards, detailing why this seemingly harmless woman needed to be brutally murdered in the first place.

The story is probably REW's strongest element. Without revealing too much, REW does a great job of reversing expectations - not to mention explaining events that, at first, make no sense at all. Your 'hero', if you can call a murderer a hero, is not at all what he seems.

Beyond the story, REW is a point-and-click adventure game. You must manipulate items scattered around the screen to progress. This, predictably, involves a lot of clicking to see what items work with what parts of the environment.


Point-and-click. If your mouse works, so does REW.


REW is pretty nifty looking. Almost the entire thing is cast in midnight blacks and purples, with occasional dips into lighter colours for variety. The characters are particularly provocative, for though most of them don't say a word, they're quite expressive in their mannerisms. I especially liked the little murderer - he looks so damn twisted.


The same spooky song... over... and over... and over. I felt pretty meh about REW's sound offering, as the tune isn't terribly catchy (how many horror-esque songs can you peg as 'catchy?') and it never ends. Ever. Variety would have helped propel the story along.

Challenge Rating

Ah. Yeah. Here's where REW gets dicey: it's not difficult at all.

Which, for story-based games, doesn't usually bother me too much. You're trying to tell a tale, you want the gamer to progress, you keep the game fairly simple as a result. I get that. Thing is, you still need to provide interesting game play to support the story - and REW fails in that department.

Point-and-click adventures are seldom exciting. Most of the time you're staring at largely static screens, trying to figure out how this axe works with this tree, or whether this key fits in this lock, or that box, or maybe that bowl of pudding. Interesting, stimulating, but not exciting.

Unfortunately, REW is neither exciting nor terribly stimulating. The point-and-click nature of the game often isn't logical: rather than taking an item and using it somewhere else, in most cases you're just clicking on stuff until something happens. Do so in the right order and presto! The game continues. (Backwards.) Giving the player more control to figure out how items work together would've been nice.

That said, I WILL admit that the concept of working backwards for this kind of game is pretty neat, for it you can remember where an item was in the previous screen, you can probably figure out what's supposed to happen to make it get there in the NEXT screen. More interaction would have made this (perhaps unintended, I'm not sure) mechanic downright fascinating.


REW is a neat experience. As a game it's not so hot, but as a story it's quite nifty. Give yourself ten or fifteen minutes to run through this little murder mystery - it's well worth the time spent.


Thursday, December 22, 2011


No bones about it, there are some pretty weird browser games out there. The freedom to create whatever one wants, without financial obligations or creative expectations, has led to some bizarre creations - and not all of them are good.

FIVE/5 is straddling the border between odd and normal, at least for me. I honestly don't know if I like this game or not. Either way, though, I can freely admit that it's bloody strange - but in a still playable way.


FIVE/5 borders on artistic, so the game's exact purpose isn't TOTALLY clear, but the intro cut scene is more or less self-explanatory: you've been shot. You have five minutes to live. Fail to overcome the hurdles to survival and, well, you're toast.

What hurdles? Ahh, that's the strange part. Shortly after the shooting you're warped into a bizarre realm of intersecting tunnels which you can change to your liking. Do so correctly and you can collect keys to open up more such tunnels, expanding the possibilities for new paths. Do this enough times and you'll get through just fine. (Maybe.)

There is, of course, one rule that makes this a hell of a lot more difficult. Changing the tunnels around is done on a four-by-four grid, like so:

Whenever you're going for a key, you need to ensure that every tunnel links up in a row. Otherwise, your guy will hit dead ends whenever he tries to move from one screen to the next. This is incredibly difficult to manage, especially in the later puzzles, as even one little tunnel left out of order will result in failure.

Oh, and did I mention you have to do all this in five minutes? Hence the name of the game? The timer pauses whenever you're on the map screen, granted, but that's still not a lot of time for running through the maze once you've figured out a puzzle.


FIVE/5 is both a platformer and a point-and-click puzzler, but you can calmly switch between your mouse and your keyboard when paused, so that's no biggie. And, overall, the mouse proves no problem for navigation.

I was more annoying in FIVE/5 by the keyboard setup. I am not a fan of movement through ASDF, and you're forced to use those keys to navigate. An option to switch the control scheme, or at least move the jump button, would've been a plus.


FIVE/5 is a monochromatic game. It loves its blacks, greys and whites, to the point that you'll have to watch flashing patterns of all three no matter which screen you're on. This is striking at first, though after a while it started to hurt my eyes. Have mercy, FIVE/5.

I'd also point out that the map screen, though useful for assembling puzzles, is not terribly helpful when determining what's contained inside a particular set of tunnels. The keys and your little guy are so small that it's hard to tell what's in a given chunk of maze without zooming in, and that wastes precious time. (I will admit, however, that the flashing in miniature while you're on the map screen was a nice touch.)


As this is a title where extremes are the norm, the music in FIVE/5, though repetitive, is really well done. The game's sole track is a powerful violin and cello piece that's about as sinister as anything you'll find in a video game. And since the game THEORETICALLY only takes five minutes, you have little reason to turn the music off. (In theory, of course, the game takes a lot longer than that. Expect to mute after twenty minutes or so, no matter how good the music may be.)

Challenge Rating

FIVE/5 is FREAKING HARD. That talk about extremes? It wasn't an exaggeration. Not only are you given very little guidance in what needs to be done, but once you figure out how the game actually works you'll have a devil of a time completing the various puzzles. It is do-able, but not without a lot of tinkering and trial-and-error. Don't expect to complete FIVE/5 on your first try, it just ain't happening.

I wouldn't be quite so adverse to the challenge FIVE/5 presents if it provided more of an explanation. I can understand if a platformer or a shooter doesn't give a tutorial, but a puzzle game like this? Don't expect happy players. I'd also point out, as one gamer did on Newgrounds, that putting a hint on successful navigation in the Author Description rather than in the game itself is not a great idea. What if FIVE/5 ends up on some other website (inevitable)? New players won't have a clue what to do.


The idea behind FIVE/5 is really neat, and the execution is... interesting... but this browser game needs some more polish. It's just not user friendly enough to be truly enjoyable for the average gamer. Hardcore thinkers who hate being held by the hand will love this game, but irritation is otherwise inevitable.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Infectonator: Christmas Edition

We here at Browser Rousers believe in the celebrating of all major holidays... including my birthday, hence skipping yesterday... and so it would be remiss of us not to play a Christmas game.

A normal Christmas game? Of course not. Infectonator!


Infectonator was a normal game before it became a Christmas title, and so I imagine the original game plays more or less the same as the Christmas version. You are, for lack of better identification, the embodiment of a horrifying zombie disease that turns normal humans into ravenous undead creatures. What fun! Playing as the disease you need to proceed through various levels, spreading the goodness to more and more people.

The caveat? Well, you only get to spread the virus once per level. After that your placement dictates the spread of the virus, and whether or not you'll catch everyone before your zombies die out. You don't get a TON of control, though you can purchase grenades to expedite the killing. (Didn't know viruses COULD buy stuff.)

And the Christmas factor? There are two things: first, the game is graphically Christmasy. There are various small Christmas references, and every now and then you'll see Santa wandering around. Second, you have less than a month to get through every level before the game ends. That means, yes, you have a limited number of tries before the game goes kaput and you have to start over.


Point, click. It'd be criminal if Infectonator got any simpler.


Infectonator is a few years old, so I'll cut it a little slack in the graphics department. It's not BAD. It's just... not great, either. The visuals won't blow anyone over. You can, at the very least, tell what every sprite is meant to represent, and that's good enough, right?


Christmasy song followed by zombie horror music. Rinse, repeat. Infectonator doesn't get too fancy with its tunes, but they're appropriate to the game's themes, so I won't complain. They are, if nothing else, better than the average Christmas songs you hear while in a mall this time of the year.

Challenge Rating

Infectonator is a little too easy for my tastes. Granted, you have a limited number of 'lives' before the game trounces your butt, but you get a ton of money during that time - more than enough to max out your virus' potential and make it an unstoppable killing machine. Some levels breeze by after a single click and a few seconds of waiting. There ARE things that can stop your virus, of course - distance and gun-toting meanies being the foremost factors - but a few grenades is more than enough to cover the problem areas.

I think what made Infectonator a little too easy was the fact that you get money for getting achievements. Cut back on that and the overall game should become more challenging.


I'm not gaga over Infectonator: Christmas Edition, but it should be enough to stave any zombie cravings. And, hey, it never hurts to make a season-inappropriate game.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Epic Rail

I like trains.

Seriously. I do like trains. I took a train to school for four and a half years, and I still like 'em. I'd rather take a train than a car to a destination, regardless of circumstances... assuming the tracks aren't set up like the ones in Epic Rail.

If they were? Uh...


We've seen Epic Rail's like before. The premise is what you'd probably guess of a train management game: you try and prevent the trains from smashing into each other, thereby averting horrible catastrophe like any good railway conductor.

How? In theory, it's very simple: mess with the switches. Each level is populated by tracks, trains, stations and switches, and it's your job to guide the trains to the appropriately coloured stations so they can unload their... whatevers. The stations correspond to coloured train cars, so passing a train by the right station will turn one of its cars white. Once every car is white, the level ends and you go to the next.

All that is, of course, theory. In practice, Epic Rail is surprisingly difficult. Not only do the trains move at a decent clip, the tracks are often so muddled up...

... that making heads or tails of what's going where is, ah, trying. (Yes, that's a dude with headphones.) Quick, careful changing of switches is instrumental to victory - but if you want to get a gold rating, you need to limit how many times you hit switches. Pandemonium is inevitable.


Exceedingly simple. Click the white spots between tracks with your cursor and the direction of the tracks will change. That's all there is to it. If this isn't working, your mouse isn't working. My only quibble here is that the switches are small, so hitting one occasionally turns into a game of target practice.


The creators of Epic Rail, notdoppler, pride themselves on releasing a new Flash game every week, and so it's no surprise that Epic Rail's graphics aren't mind-blowing. What they are is clean and uncomplicated, which, given the nature of surviving the game, is much more important than glitz and glamour. Two thumbs up.

I especially approve of the turn signal menu...

... even if it is usually just telling you that you suck.


For the most part, Epic Rail's soundtrack consists of ambient sounds: birds singing, traffic, wind, that sorta thing. Nothing special. The tune that plays during the intro is pretty nifty, but it would probably get annoying after a while, so I'm glad it doesn't show up during the rest of the game. (And, uh, the defeat music... well, I'm naturally biased against defeat music. Most gamers probably are.)

Challenge Rating

Hard. I'm decent at puzzle solving, but not so much on the fly. Consequently, I diiiiiidn't get that far in Epic Rail, despite almost an hour of trying. Anybody with a keen eye and a keener mind will probably enjoy the game's challenge, though it does get difficult a bit too early for my tastes. You need more time to practice.


Epic Rail is an okay game. It doesn't stand out in a huge way, and it probably won't win any awards, but it's a solid time-waster for procrastinators who feel office work is below their vast intellects.


Monday, October 31, 2011


(Today's Halloween, don'tcha know, so this entry seems fitting. Enjoy your national candy day, folks.)

I have waited, for ages, for a good zombie-based RTS game to come out. And while Rebuild doesn't quite fit the bill - it's a Civ-style, turn-based strategy game - it's good enough.

Rebuild's premise is a little different from your average zombie game. Rather than trying to survive and escape the zombies, you're trying to survive and, uh, rebuild. There are few titles more succinct than this.


Rebuild sticks you right in the middle of a city that's been overrun by zombie hordes. Your goal is to retake the city, block by block, by sending fellow survivors into danger zones to wipe out the 'zeds', collect food, find more survivors and, ultimately, extend the fence of your fortress around the entire city. You also have to defend your walls from zombie attacks by appointing your troops to keep watch and fight back during battles.

What makes Rebuild a little more complex than your average browser-based game is the juggling of resources and survivors. Your survivors need certain levels of happiness and food to thrive, and so you need to have lots of people on board - but at the same time you don't want so many that you become overwhelmed. What's more, your survivors all have specialties, so you need to maximize your chances of survival by deploying them properly - and since Rebuild runs almost strictly on percentages, paying attention to specializations is very important.


Rebuild is a point-and-click strategy game. So long as your mouse is working, you'll be able to navigate the (pleasantly simple) menus with ease.


Rebuild is not the most attractive browser-based game in the world, but it's hardly offensive. The maps are a mixture of commercial puns and gaps of sinister black, and the occasional battle scenes between the survivors and the zombies are cartoon versus cartoon. Not spectacular, but the visuals aren't the important part of Rebuild anyway.

Though I do find All-Mart amusing.


Meh. Rebuild has appropriately sinister/industrial music befitting a zombie game. It gets a little irritating after a while, especially since (successful) games of Rebuild can take a REALLY long time, but it's far from the worst I've heard.

Challenge Rating

As far as browser games go, Rebuild is pretty bloody hard. Even with a helpful tutorial at the beginning of a new game, you're almost always going to lose your first city... and maybe your second. And third. This is exasperated when you take into account that there are five difficulty settings, and when you fail you're probably at... the second lowest. (Maybe lowest.) It only gets worse from there.

The saving grace of the difficulty is that cheapness doesn't usually factor into your losses; generally it's just a run of bad luck and worse decisions on your part. You need to play this game wisely and pay heed to warnings of incoming zombie hordes, as survivors can be scarce and you don't have many turns to adapt to increasing numbers of the undead.


Rebuild is a lot of fun. Granted, you'll basically be playing the same thing over and over again, but the randomization of the city blocks and the contents of the buildings - not to mention the outcomes of all your forays into danger - make it a replayable experience. Just, ah, get used to seeing this screen a lot:


(And stay tuned for a review of its sequel later in the week!)